investigator_user investigator user funding collaborators pending menu bell message arrow_up arrow_down filter layers globe marker add arrow close download edit facebook info linkedin minus plus save share search sort twitter remove user-plus user-minus
  • Project leads
  • Collaborators

Empathic Physician Communication and Stigma in Lung Cancer Patients

Jamie S Ostroff

0 Collaborator(s)

Funding source

National Institutes of Health (NIH)
The majority (95 percent) of lung cancer patients report experiencing lung cancer stigma from their family, friends, and medical providers, with 48 percent specifically reporting experiencing stigma from their medical providers. This stigma has negative effects on patients' psychological well-being as well as their medical outcomes. This perceived stigma may be exacerbated within the context of clinical consultations in which physicians routinely probe about patients' smoking behaviors. As such, empathic communication between patients and physicians during these clinical encounters may be critical to reduce patient's perceived stigma and thus improve the patient-physician relationship. This, in turn, may lead patients to report less psychological distress, be more honest with their physicians, and accept their physicians' advice and assistance to quit smoking. Despite the need for an intervention to improve these interactions, there is little research to examine ways that patients' perceived stigma could be reduced. The goals of this study are to: 1) describe empathic communication between oncologists and lung cancer patients during a clinical consultation of a newly diagnosed patient and 2) examine the association between oncologists' empathic communication and patients' perceived stigma, satisfaction with communication, psychological distress, intent to quit smoking, and acceptance of physicians' advice and assistance to quit smoking. To meet these goals, 55 lung cancer patients' clinical consultations with their physicians will be audio recorded. After their consultation, patients will fill out a bref questionnaire that includes questions about their perceived stigma, satisfaction with communication, and psychological distress. They will also participate in a brief (15-20 minute) interview asking about their perceptions of stigma within their clinical consultation. Analyses wil be two-fold and will focus both on how empathic communication occurs between physicians and patients (e.g., how many missed opportunities, degree of empathic communication, ways they respond to patients' anxieties, guilt, fear, etc.) as well as examine if empathic communication is associated with patients' decreased stigma, decreased psychological distress, and improved satisfaction with communication and adherence to referral for a Tobacco Cessation Program. It is expected that these results will provide preliminary evidence for the development of a communication intervention to improve empathic communication within potentially stigmatizing interactions.

Related projects